British restaurants and takeaways have urged retail landlords to grant rent holidays as they battle to survive during the coronavirus outbreak.
The British Takeaway Campaign (BTC), which represents restaurants, takeaways and small businesses in the supply chain, called for an immediate three-month freeze on rent ahead of quarterly payments due next week.
The group warned that without help from landlords, tens of thousands of eateries were facing insolvency “within weeks, if not days”.
“We appreciate that landlords will have significant concerns for their income and in recent years have had to cope with the demise of traditional retailing and its impact on the high street,” BTC chair Ibrahim Dogus wrote in a letter to landlord trade bodies the British Property Federation and Revo.
“However, restaurants and takeaways simply do not have the capital to meet their rent obligations while they struggle to cope with the challenges coronavirus has brought.”
Dogus added that the survival of these restaurants was a “mutual interest”, as no new tenants would be waiting to take the place of collapsed businesses.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered the closure of all pubs, restaurants and bars across the UK amid a ramping up of social distancing measures in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus.
Restaurants are still allowed to offer takeaway services, but have been urged to observe social distancing advice as they do so.
BTC said the British hospitality industry was “on the brink”, adding that while some landlords were offering rent holidays or deferments, these remained in the minority.
“Our members tell us that the majority of landlords are refusing to provide any flexibility on this issue. In our view, this is irresponsible,” Dogus wrote.
Pubs and restaurants have already begun to lay off workers as a result of the crisis. However, chancellor Rishi Sunak last week said the government would pay up to 80 per cent of wages of staff unable to work as a result of the pandemic.